US study says low-fat diet may improve outlook for people experiencing breast cancer

Recent research has found that changing to a low-fat diet may have a positive influence on breast cancer outcomes.

A study led by Dr Rowan T Chlebowski, PhD of the City of Hope National Medical Center in California found that, in a randomized clinical trial, a low-fat eating pattern was associated with lower risk of death after breast cancer.

The study followed earlier research conducted at 40 US clinical centres that enrolled participants from 1993 to 1998. Participants were 48,835 postmenopausal women with no previous breast cancer and dietary fat intake of greater than 32% according to a questionnaire.

Participants in the original research were separated into a dietary intervention group comprising 19,541 women, representing 40% of the group. This group’s goals were to reduce fat intake to 20% of energy and increase fruit, vegetable, and grain intake. The comparison group (comprising 29,294 or 60% of the group) remained on a usual diet.

In the latest research, a clinical trial was carried out involving 1764 postmenopausal women from the original study who were diagnosed with breast cancer during the dietary intervention period.  Their mean age at screening was 62.7 years and age at diagnosis was 67.6 years. With 516 total deaths, breast cancer overall survival was significantly greater for women in the dietary intervention group than in the usual-diet comparison group (10-year survival of 82% and 78%, respectively). In the dietary group there were fewer deaths from breast cancer (68 vs 120), other cancers (36 vs 65), and cardiovascular disease (27 vs 64).

The latest study concluded that, in women who received a diagnosis of breast cancer during the dietary intervention period, the low-fat dietary measures were associated with overall survival. The increase was due, in part, to better survival from several causes of death, the latest research finds. Therefore, the extent to which results were driven by dietary influence on survival after breast cancer diagnosis remain unknown.

31 May 2018

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